The Cardinals tried to lock up first baseman Albert Pujols last offseason with a nine-year offer worth between $22 million and $22.5 million annually.
Since the day that proposal was rejected by Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano, talks have not restarted. But they will in early November, when baseball’s best hitter will be just steps away from free agency.
Will the Cardinals’ front office change its tune? Will the offer improve? And which of MLB’s other 29 teams are going to be making bids?
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has consistently provided the most accurate details on the matter, and ran a column Saturday with a couple of notes on the looming negotiations.
- The Cardinals are “currently inclined” to remain within the salary framework of the original offer ($22M-$22.5M annually) and may even “tighten” its length.
- That stance could change if another team makes a better bid.
- The Cubs, Rangers, Angels, Marlins and Nationals are currently being “cited” as the other potential suitors.
In other words, it’s going to be a lot like every other big-time free agent sweepstakes. If the Cards are outbid, they’ll up the ante. But they’re not going to stretch their payroll without a good reason. And with the Yankees and Red Sox likely sitting this one out, perhaps a $200 million deal will actually do the trick.
Keep in mind that Ryan Howard, a .274/.368/.560 career hitter and poor defender, is set to earn $25 million a year between 2014 and 2016. Pujols is a .329/.421/.618 career batter and a worthy two-time Gold Glover.